Posted on

Going Beyond Customer Support

Social MediaMake a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Aunt Betty the doll enthusiast attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Betty to pull out the photos of the lifelike dolls. Let’s face it; these days, customer support is a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.

Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:

Tweet first

There are a number of major companies, including Zappos.com and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly! – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas?

Take it to Facebook

Many companies have branded Facebook pages where you’ll receive a personalized response within hours, or even minutes. That way you can go about your business instead of sitting on the phone, frantically working your way through the automated telephone tree. Hint: Post a message on their wall rather than trying to contact them via Facebook message. The public aspect of your plea for help will ignite a faster response.

Try their website

Bypass the 800 number and email in favor of a live chat. You can get a live someone immediately (or within a minute or two) instead of playing hurry up and wait on the phone. Live chat not available? Try the email contact form. You may have to wait 24 hours for a response, but you can use that time productively.

Record a video

If all else fails, record a video and post it to YouTube. You never know what a visual plea for help, or a bad review, will do for cutting through the red tape. Be calm, though, and leave room for a response; if all you do is spazz out, they’ll just write you off as a nut.

The key here is to take control of your own time rather than letting someone else determine your destiny. Don’t let “them” tell you that you must sit on hold for 45 minutes before you get a living, breathing person to listen to your problems. Save time and take it online.

Going Beyond Customer SupportWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

Share Important Announcements

Social MediaYou’re changing the name of your blog. You just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re heading to Chicago for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help share important announcements far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves:

Don’t be afraid to post it more than once

Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.

Create an opportunity to connect

Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

Talk about the news before it happens

Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

Interconnect your social media networks

Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.

Forget about press releases and publicists, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do the promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

Share Important AnnouncementsWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

Take a Mental Vacation

Social MediaWhether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore? Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

Take a Mental VacationWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

Recommendations for a Great Web Designer

Web DesignIf you’re in search of a great web designer, you may want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter, do not pass go. Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business may be as easy as asking the hundreds of folks in your social media network who they recommend. Here’s a breakdown of ways to find trusted contractors, by social media outlet:

LinkedIn

One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can use this feature to find a great copywriter, and read what others have to say about him or her. Think of it as a Yelp for people.

Twitter

While you’re missing out on the depth of information available on LinkedIn, you can get instantaneous responses. For instance, tweet “Looking for a great online bookkeeper” and you should get a bunch of responses within minutes. Give more weight to those that come from inside your network, though, as often a request for referrals will generate automated responses from a spammer. It looks like it comes from one of your friends, but is actually just an ad.

Facebook

You can post requests for referrals, just like on Twitter, and you can also search for people with those keywords in their profiles. Beware, though; just because someone is listed as “Penelope Bookkeeper” doesn’t mean they’re an expert. You could also post your request in groups that are associated with the topic (post a request for a logo designer on a graphic artists’ Facebook group wall, for example).

YouTube

It might seem a little strange to put out a call for resources via video, but why not? Especially if you have a significant following, you could get a tremendous response. Added benefit: If the project you have in mind has a visual aspect, you can demonstrate it right on the video (think office organization, website overhaul, kitchenette remodel).

Even if fourteen people recommend the same web designer, make sure to do your due diligence. Get a written quote and scope of work, ask for a list of projects completed, and confirm that that person will be doing your project personally, not outsourcing to another. With these tips in mind, you should be able to find great outsourcing resources at the click of a mouse.

Recommendations for a Great Web DesignerWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

What Makes WordPress so Popular with the Pragmatic?

WordPressIt is free

Being free is not a requirement, but it helps. WordPress, first released in May 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, it now being used by more than 300 million websites worldwide. That’s what I call growth. As a result, WordPress is my personal recommendation to anyone considering creating their blog or website.

It is functional

WordPress offers significant functionality right out of the box. It doesn’t matter if your site is a blog or a business site. It is a robust and efficient solution.

Easy to manage

I’ve always been a DIY type individual, and WordPress makes a website easy to manage by yourself.

Easy to learn

There are online communities where you can learn more about WordPress without having to figure it out on your own. Building a website is no more complex than learning to use a moderately complex application like Microsoft Word. Also, don’t underestimate the value of online tutorials. There are many.

Well supported

It’s also easy to find service providers who are experienced with WordPress when you need additional customization or personalization of your blog. Consider yours truly, the Pragmatic Web Designer. I just love to build websites: timely, practical and relevant.

Search engine friendly

Another very compelling reason to use WordPress is that search engines like Google.com and Bing.com love WordPress and rapidly index posts and pages on a WordPress site.

Flexible

You can find thousands of WordPress plugins which will enhance, and extend your blog or website. They are what make WordPress truly extendable. There are plugins for almost any purpose you can imagine. Plug-ins allow users to customize their website without having to pay a programmer or purchase expensive add-on products.

What Makes WordPress so Popular with the Pragmatic?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

Get Answers with Social Media

Social MediaIt used to be that all answers to your questions could be found on Google. Then, when Google became overrun with junk sites and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too ancient, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions:

Opinions

Heading to San Antonio and want to know where to find authentic Tex-Mex? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your followers will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.

When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your social media network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.

New technology questions

Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could google the problem, but all the answers you get are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the Tweetiverse, and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as the site to go to for expert help.

Google often doesn’t help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a small fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your network first.

References and referrals

Looking for a great handyman in Manhattan can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of social media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

Get Answers with Social MediaWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?

Web DesignPlanning your web design budget

Every website is different, which makes pricing an “art” more than a “science.” This being the case, all web developers use different methods to determine the cost of web design. There are four common types of web design pricing used in the industry today: Hourly rates, Project price, Package rates and Per page. Each of the common methods for website pricing is described below. If you already have a requirements list for your website ask for a quote.

Charging hourly

A very common way for web designers to charge is by the hour. Depending on the experience, your location, and many other factors, the hourly rate can be anywhere from $10 outsourced overseas to $200 per hour for a high-level consultant! This is a huge difference but you can find both and everything in between.

The important thing is to remember – you really do “get what you pay for.” Make sure the web developer is worth the rate they charge. Always check with the designer’s past clients. Common hourly rates:

  • Student/Offshore: $10-$30/hour
  • Freelancer: $35-$100/hour
  • Expert Consultant: $50-$200/hour
  • Company: $75-$150/hour

Per project pricing

Many web design firms will give you a set price to complete your project. This can be a good option. Make sure you have a thorough and complete requirements list before you begin the project. A good design firm will break out each proposal section with a list of features, specification and assumptions for each section of your website. Make sure you get it in writing so you both have clear expectations. Common pricing for projects:

  • Outsourced Offshore: $500 – $15,000
  • US Designer: $3,000 – $20,000
  • US Web Design Firm: $5,000 – $50,000

Package rates

Many web designers will have pre-made packages that are usually cheaper than the project model. The drawback with packages is that they try and fit your business into a pre-made website that might not have all the bells and whistles a custom site has. Most designers, however, will have a flat package rate then allow you to request customization at an additional charge. Package rates at Pragmatic Web Design begin at $299 for up to 3 pages.

Per page pricing

Some web designers charge a flat rate per page, this can range from as low as $50 to as much as $200 per page. This pricing is usually for basic static brochure websites that do not require a lot of custom features. The per page price may go down with a bulk discount depending on the number of pages you need. Typically, designers with less experience are the ones who usually charge per page prices.

Brochure websites

In this day and age, it is essential for a company to have an online presence as well as a basic corporate brochure site. A “brochure” site simply means a website that serves as an online brochure that gives general information about your company products and services. A brochure site does not have complex database programming, e-commerce, or lots of interactivity. It basically serves as an online advertisement that features graphic design. These websites may start for as little as $500 or be as high as $2,500.

Complex websites

E-commerce, Corporate or Commercial websites can range from very simple to very complex. There are quite a few things to consider when preparing to budget. More complex sites feature a greater level of interactivity and database integration. You may need a private intranet for employee communication and document sharing, or an extranet to share information and track vendors and/or customers. If you choose the lowest price possible you will probably not get any qualified providers to respond. These websites usually start around $5,000 and can go as high as $25,000 depending on the complexity. I say usually; as sites can go as high as $100,000.

Summary

If you have a requirements list for your website or would like to develop one; call 239-400-0622 or email [email protected] a request for a quote. At Pragmatic Web Designer we make estimating a project easy. Details on package pricing are provided in detail online. Our other rates are $50 an hourly or $100 a page. Project proposals can be made based on a requirements list.

How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

The Correlation Between Traffic and Sales

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have. But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize the number of sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to Get The Sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader. People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have. It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have a beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep Them Coming Back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

The Correlation Between Traffic and SalesWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on

Premium Theme Options for the Pragmatic

WordPressAside from the two big players already talked about, there are other places to purchase premium themes. Two of our favorites are Theme Forest and Woo Themes.

Theme Forest

Theme Forest is a marketplace where developers can list their themes for sale. They pay Theme Forest a commission between 30% and 50%, depending on exclusivity and volume of sales.

WordPress themes begin at about $20, but the typical price is $35. Because Theme Forest is simply a marketplace, there is no guarantee that the themes you find there will be of a certain quality, so you need to do your due diligence. Theme Forest does not offer support for the themes they sell – for that you need to go to the developer itself – although they are good about refunds should you run into a problem.

WooThemes

http://www.woothemes.com/

WooThemes is another premium theme vendor. Unlike Theme Forest, WooThemes develops their own themes, so the quality is consistent. They also offer a little different pricing structure. All themes are $70 each, and with that, you have a license to use that theme on as many sites as you like. Or for $150 you also receive the layered PSD files for easy customization.

If you have a lot of sites, though, or are a WordPress developer, the best option is to sign up for their Theme Club Subscription. The signup fee is either $125 or $200 (depending on if you opt for a developer membership or not), plus $20 – $25 each month. This gets you instant access to all 100+ themes WooThemes currently offers, plus 2 new themes each month.

In addition, if you choose the developer option, you’ll also receive the complete PSD files for every theme you download, making it a simple thing to completely update the theme and make it fit the style of your blog or website.

Premium Theme Options for the PragmaticWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

Posted on 1 Comment

How to Maximize Sales Using the Internet

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have.  But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to get the sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader.  People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have.  It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep them coming back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

How to Maximize Sales Using the InternetWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]